Using one’s own garden flowers to create oshibana (pressed-flower arrangements) and thereby eternally preserving the flowers’ beauty is a joy many nature lovers would relish.
For Setsuko Osawa, an oshibana artist, such pleasures are a life’s work. For the last 20 years or so, Osawa has stood at the forefront of the oshibana world, even when it wasn’t getting the attention it does today. She continuously produced beautiful pieces, including the tiny, detailed life-sized works in the popular 1996 oshibana calendar; a different arrangement for every day of the year.
Her oshibana exhibition, currently at Matsuya Ginza until May 8, includes this calendar work as well as about 200 other works.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is a 14-meter panorama piece depicting a field during four different seasons. It is divided into four sections, using approximately 300 different kinds of flowering plants.
“I spent between 20 and 30 hours just designing it; it took me about 250 hours to create the whole thing,” Osawa says. She adds that she wanted to depict a grassy place from which a viewer could almost “feel” a breeze blowing, with plants and flowers that look as if they are growing naturally. In order to do that she used every part of the plant, from the root to the stem and the calyx.
What makes the process of creating oshibana so exciting for Osawa is that she grows almost all of the flowers and plants she uses. “In this case, the joy of making oshibana multiplies,” she says.
In her atelier, the balcony is packed with all sorts of herbs and plants and the whole space is filled with a sweet floral and herbal scent. She also has a fantastic rooftop garden.
“I plant them only for the sake of making my oshibana. I always promise my plants and flowers that I’ll bring them back to life again [through oshibana],” she says with a smile.
Other works in the exhibition include various types of wedding bouquets, interior goods like lampshades and wallpaper decorated with oshibana, and a picture of a sky full of angels carrying magic wands, each wand topped with a tiny star-shaped flower. All her works are very delicate and full of imagination.
“I’m really fond of my flowers and plants. The process of making oshibana brings peace to my soul,” she says.